Best Investment Apps of 2021
These days you can do anything on your phone and that includes setting up and managing investment accounts. If you wanted to, you could make your phone the hub of your financial life, handling your bank accounts and investments, paying your bills, and managing your credit cards with it.
The vast majority of brokerages offer phone apps that you can use to check your account and make trades. But there are also a number of startups who offer other ways to get started with investing. These factors will help you choose the best investing apps for you.
|Name||Claim to Fame||Minimum Investment||Account Types||Fees||Signup|
|Automatically invest your spare change by rounding up purchases to the nearest dollar and investing the amount.|
|$1/month or 0.25% per year for accounts greater than $5000.||Get the App|
|Free stock trading - no commissions, no fees.|
|None! No trading commissions or annual fees.||Get the App|
|Learn how to invest with portfolios that reflect who you are.|
|$1/month for Beginner account, $3/month for Growth account and $9/month for Stash+ Account.||Get the App|
How to Choose the Right Investment App
Do you want to purchase individual stocks and bonds or invest in more diversified ETFs or mutual funds?
Major brokerages let you purchase individual securities, but charge you a fee for each trade. There are startups that have apps that let you purchase stocks in individual companies with no fees. If your goal is investing in mutual funds, most larger brokerages offer fee free trades when buying their branded mutual funds or ETFs.
Do you plan to invest large sums all at once, or do you want to invest small amounts over a long period of time?
Some apps will let you invest your spare change every month so you can slowly build your account balance. If you’re want to invest in one lump sum, other apps might be for you.
Do you plan to manage your investments personally, or do you want to be as hands-off as possible?
While you can manage your investments at most brokerages, robo-advisor companies like Betterment or Wealthfront do all the work for you. Once you use the app to make the deposit, everything else is taken care of.
Investors need to be incredibly aware of the fees they’re paying because even a small fee can create a huge drag on your returns over time.
Robo advisor apps tend to charge a fee equal to a percentage of your invested assets, but most claim that their benefits outweigh the cost.
Typical brokerages charge fees for each trade you make. For example, Charles Schwab charges for each stock trade, but there’s no fee if you’re buying a Schwab mutual fund or ETF. If you know what fund or ETF you want to invest in, you can probably save on fees by using the app owned by the company that offers the fund.
Other apps offer fee free trades, making their money some other way.
Many investment apps require a minimum deposit before you can start making purchases. Robo-advisors often have a minimum balance and other brokerages require you to purchase full shares of companies. That creates a de-facto minimum balance when some stocks cost as much $1,000 or more for one share.
Other apps are designed for people who want to invest small amounts. If you expect to have trouble meeting a minimum balance requirement, you may want to find an app that targets small balances.
There are so many different types of investments available on the market that it can be difficult to keep them all straight: stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, options, futures, and more can all be bought and sold using an investment app.
Not all apps offer all kinds of investments for purchase. You may be restricted to purchasing only individual stocks, or only buying that company’s ETFs. If you have an investment strategy that requires purchasing multiple types of investments, make sure the app that you choose offers them all.
There's a huge variety of accounts that you can use to invest. If you’re looking to save for retirement you’ll want to take advantage of a Traditional or Roth IRA. If you’re a small business owner you might want to open a SEP or SIMPLE IRA or a Solo 401(k). Parents saving for college might need a 529 account.
Not all apps offer every type of account, so make sure the app you’re choosing lets you open the accounts you need to.
Other Financial Services Offered
If you already have a banking app on your phone to manage your checking and savings accounts or your credit card, check if that company also offers investing services. So long as the other factors, fees, minimums, and so on, meet your needs, why complicate your finances?
Some banks even offer relationship bonuses for keeping multiple parts of your life at the same institution.
Research and Investment Tracking Information Offered
Do you like numbers? Want to dig deep into a company’s history and performance before you invest? Or do you want to see an in-depth breakdown of your investments’ performance by account, individual holding, and time period?
Some investing apps are bare bones, giving you the ability to make trades, but offering very little support when it comes to research companies or analyzing your own investments’ performance.
Customer Service and Support Offered
When it comes to your finances, you’ll want a company well known for their customer service. Nothing is worse than waiting on hold trying to get access to your own money because of an issue with the software.
Major brokerage companies offer clients a variety of additional services like access to financial planning services or CPAs to help at tax time. These services may be restricted to clients with large investment balances, but if you qualify, or think you’ll qualify for the service one day, that sort of value-add can be an important factor to consider when deciding the best investment app.
Ease of Use
The intuitiveness of an app is incredibly important to its overall quality. An investing app could offer all the features you could ever ask for, but still be useless because you can’t figure out how to access the services. Especially when you consider the fact that your trades could involve tens of thousands of dollars, it is essential that the app is easy to understand and helps protect you from making a mistake when buying or selling an investment.
Take the time to consider the app’s user interface and how easy it is to use before committing to it.